Goodbye, lirc

The initial method I’ve been using to control MythTV on my new build is my trusty Logitech S10 RF keyboard and mouse. It’s very handy as a fallback and when I want to type something.

I have also been using the Mythmote android app, which works fine, but a smartphone, whilst great for many things, just doesn’t hack it as a TV remote. Especially when the TV is used by all the family.

So, I bit the bullet and purchased a new remote control. The main requirement was USB. As the PC is behind a wall I have run a USB cable, with a hub on the end, so I can connect any peripherals I like behind the TV.

After minutes of deliberation, I decided to go for a Hama MCE remote control. These function exactly like a mini keyboard and mouse and are supported by Linux out-of-the box. Lo and behold, it worked out-of-the box and I could control Myth and even use the in-built pad to move the mouse cursor on the desktop.

I had a half-hearted attempt at getting lirc working, as I’m a geek and must have been feeling masochistic. The trick is to stop the remote from being recognised as a keyboard and use lirc instead. However, in the end, I found that working like a keyboard isn’t that bad after all. Most of the buttons work straight away. Any that don’t can usually be mapped in the frontend Setup->Edit Keys utility. For example, the “Back” button is actually a “Backspace” key, so for it to be used to return to the previous menu, you can map it as an alternative to the Escape key. Also, you can add a “delete” shortcut by adding an alternative to the “D” key. It works well and is extremely easy.

The other thing I wanted lirc for was mapping some shell commands to remote control buttons, but this can be done using the Xfce keyboard settings. Just add a new shortcut and you are prompted to press the button to map it. Almost too easy!

As for the remote itself, it’s not perfect. The mouse pad thing is fairly unusable and takes up a lot of real estate, while a lot of the other buttons are very small and fiddly, especially the directional keypad, which is used a lot in Myth. Still, it works and will do the job.

All in all, I’m happy that my wife and kids and I have a nice new remote control and to fight over.

One thought on “Goodbye, lirc”

  1. Have you considered a flirc? Just about the easiest solution I’ve found to controlling a HTPC with a IR remote control. There were some teething problems initially, and I was a very early adopter, but it’s come on in leaps and bounds since.

    Essentially you can map any keyboard command to any button from the remote of your choosing.

    And as an additional interest point, the chap who makes it donates a portion of each sale to charity

    Love your blog by the way, I’m toying with the idea of migrating to MythTV from Argus TV but I gather TBS drivers can be a little problematic so am doing my research, interesting reading.

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